02 Mar A Skin Tag or Something Else?
There are over 3,000 unique types of skin conditions, and some are more common than others. However, with so many potential diagnoses, it’s critical to schedule an appointment at Spectrum Dermatology any time you notice a change or something unusual about your skin. We now have six locations in the Phoenix area, including the two newest centers in Glendale and Sun City West for your convenience. Some skin conditions are benign (harmless) like skin tags, but other times it may be a sign of a more malignant issue.
Skin tags, like moles and warts, are one of the most common of skin conditions and they tend to be more common as you get older. This flesh-colored, small “tag” is sometimes called a stalk. It typically develops on the neck, groin area, beneath the breasts, eyelids, and in the armpits. A person might have anywhere from one to hundreds of these skin tags. The good news is that a genuine skin tag is harmless and can also be easily removed. Many patients choose to remove skin tags for aesthetic reasons or because it gets caught on clothing, causing discomfort.
Does Everyone Have a Skin Tag?
Skin tags are possibly the most common of all skin conditions, and most people will develop at least one skin tag during their lifetime. You are more likely to develop a skin tag if you are middle-aged and/or obese. There are some myths about skin tags, such as if you remove one then more will grow—that is not true. However, it is important to only trust a dermatologist to remove your skin tag. Do not attempt a DIY approach. There are a number of methods for proper skin tag removal in-office such as freezing, snipping, burning, and ligature strangulation. All of these options are pain-free thanks to local anesthesia.
It is completely up to you whether you remove a skin tag or not. Doctors will typically only recommend removal if skin tags get irritated, but you will make the final call. However, it’s important to remember that it can be easy for a non-professional to mis-diagnose skin tags. They can look very similar to raised moles, especially since moles can sometimes be flesh-colored. Moles that do not abide by the ABCDEs of skin lesions should be biopsied, and only your dermatologist can determine if you have a skin tag or something else that requires testing and treatment.
All About Skin Tags
Sometimes a skin tag will fall off by itself, but that typically isn’t the case. The technical term for a skin tag is acrochordon. Skin tags do grow, albeit slowly—and this is no cause for concern if a dermatologist has diagnosed you with an acrochordon and not a different skin condition. The majority of skin tags are quite small, no larger than 5 mm in diameter, which is half the size of a pencil eraser. However, in some cases they can grow up to 5 cm, which is about the size of a fig.
Nobody knows exactly what causes skin tags. One theory is that they develop when skin rubs against itself or something else regularly, which is in keeping with where skin tags are typically found. Even babies can develop skin tags, especially if they are plump and have chronic skin-to-skin contact with skin folds. Younger children tend to develop skin tags on the eyelids, which may be from regular rubbing. Adolescents and teens often develop skin tags in their armpits, perhaps from sports. Anyone of any age can develop a skin tag, but they are generally not congenital (present at birth). Most patients start developing skin tags in middle age, and the prevalence continues to increase until about age 60.
Should You Remove Your Skin Tag?
The first step in considering whether to have a dermatologist remove a skin tag or not is getting a correct diagnosis. What you think is a skin tag might be something else entirely. Everyone benefits from an annual skin check, which is an opportunity for your dermatologist to do a comprehensive scan of your body to check for concerns including skin cancer. This is also a great opportunity to talk about skin topics like acrochordons.
Overall, skin tags are considered benign and are not largely associated with other diseases—except in one case. There is a relatively small group of people with skin tags who are also obese and have a condition called acanthosis nigricans. This condition presents on the neck and in the armpits, and is typically associated with developing insulin insensitivity (which causes constant high blood sugar levels).
If you have a skin tag or any other skin concern, book your appointment online today. Spectrum Dermatology is fully reopened and following all CDC and local guidelines for your safety.